Paedophile businessman, 51, jailed after having affair with teenage girl he seduced when she was just 12 John Duffy had a five year illicit relationship with the teen during the 1990s Affair came to light last year when his victim – now in her 30s – went to policeCllr Duffy, 51, was jailed for 12 years at Burnley Crown Court after being found guilty of indecent assault and gross indecency



18:30 GMT, 23 December 2012

Behind bars: John Duffy had a five year illicit relationship with a teenage girl he seduced when she was just 12

Behind bars: John Duffy had a five year illicit relationship with a teenage girl he seduced when she was just 12

A parish councillor is today starting a 12 year sentence behind bars for exploiting his status as a 'pillar of the community' to have an affair with a teenage schoolgirl.

Married youth group leader John Duffy used his position of respectability as a cover for his five year illicit relationship with the besotted youngster during the 1990s.

After befriending her through his youth club, Duffy seduced her when she was just 12 then had regular sexual liaisons with the girl – promising her marriage and even showing her holiday brochures of where he said they would go on their honeymoon.

He even spent the night with the teenager while his wife was in hospital giving birth to their third child.

The girl was said to have been 'completely infatuated' with Duffy but their relationship fizzled out after the girl became pregnant at 15 and subsequently had an abortion after confiding to her mother.

But the abuse remained a secret until last year when the woman, now in her 30s went to police. She later told how her life went off the rails as a result of the relationship and she drank heavily and became suicidal.

At Burnley Crown Court Duffy, now 51, who runs a sandwich and takeway business in Colne, Lancs was convicted of 21 counts of indecent assault and one allegation of gross indecency, between 1989 and 1994. He was cleared of more serious charges of rape.

The court had heard Duffy was in his late 20s, married with children and a leader at a youth club when he befriended the girl when she was 11 in 1988.

But when they were alone together he started to stroke her hair, give her money and tell her how pretty she was.

The girl was said to have enjoyed the attention and then subsequently had sex with Duffy 'hundreds of times' over the course of the next four years.

Prosecutor Miss Alison Mather said: 'He promised her the earth to abuse her over a number of years.

'She allowed him to have sex with her to try and win his love because he told her that's what people who loved each other did.

'He would tell her things were difficult with his wife, who didn't want to do certain sexual acts with him.

'He said he and the girl had a future, they were going to get married. He would show her holiday brochures of where they would go

'She listened to him and believed him and she thought he loved her. She loved him and was completely infatuated with him.'

Trial: Duffy was found guilty of 21 counts of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency at Burnley Crown Court

Trial: Duffy was found guilty of 21 counts of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency at Burnley Crown Court

The girl's mother found some notes
she had written about Duffy hidden on top of the wardrobe while she was
cleaning – but she thought they were just the infatuated fantasies of a
teenager and threw the notes away.

The girl eventually confessed her affair with Duffy to her mother when she became pregnant by him at 15.

But the mother agreed to keep pregnancy secret as she feared the girl's father would be so angry he would kill Duffy. She took her daughter to the doctor's to have a termination instead.

During the trial the mother said: 'I was thinking of her future. She was too young to have a baby. But she was terrible, right from having that termination. I used to hear her sobbing in the night.

'I used to go and stroke her hair until she went to sleep. She was only a child. She just started to go downhill. She just gave up on everything, She was just so sad. She was so sad all the time. There was no spark there or anything.'

The mother said from the age of 17 onwards her daughter was drinking, taking tablets and overdosing. She continued : 'It was just drinking and pills and having her stomach pumped. She was so down. It was terrible. That went on for a few years.

'She never, ever had boyfriends yet she was popular because she was lovely. But she would never go out with anybody.'

When asked why she never confronted Duffy about his relationship with her daughter she added: 'I have gone over this and thought “why didn't I go down”

'But what was the point He had a wife. He had three little children. I just wanted everything sorted and back to normal. That's how I saw it at the time. It was just panic stations.'

When the girl told Duffy about the termination he did not appear bothered and was only interested in when sex could start again. The affair broke up shortly afterwards when she was 16.

Duffy who later broke up with his wife denied any affair saying it was a 'figment of her imagination'. He added: 'She may have been 12 when she started on a sexual adventure, but it wasn't with me.'

In mitigation, defence counsel Jeremy Lasker, said Duffy had been with his current partner for 10 years and was 'dismayed' at being convicted.

The barrister added: 'This has completely ruined his life. He has lived all his life in the Colne area.

'He's well known there and was well respected. He involved himself in many local activities. All that, effectively, has now been put to an end.'

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Woolman told Duffy : 'It an aggravating feature that you were a youth leader, and to some extent, exploited that position.

'Your conviction has been a shock to you. It's been a shock to many other people who genuinely believed that you were a good man. In many other respects you were a good man and did good works for the community but it was a cover to what was going on of a sexual nature underneath.'